Argentines use votes to protest hardships of economic...


October 15, 2001

Argentines use votes to protest hardships of economic reforms

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Argentines weary from years of recession and austerity cast a high number of protest votes yesterday in a congressional election expected to deliver a blow to President Fernando de la Rua.

De la Rua is not a candidate, but the vote is his party's first major test since his election in 1999 and is seen as a referendum on his attempts to drag the South American country out of recession and stave off a default on its $130 billion public debt.

Early exit polls showed that nearly 30 percent of voters in the capital, Buenos Aires, cast blank or nullified ballots. Up for grabs yesterday were the entire Senate, 127 of the 257 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, at least 11 provincial legislatures, a provincial governorship and many municipal posts.

Talks between rivals fail to end standoff in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Talks collapsed between Haiti's governing and opposition parties yesterday, a day after they started, the latest in a string of failed attempts to end a 16-month political standoff.

Yet again the sides could not agree on which elections to conduct to resolve the conflict that emerged after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's party swept last year's elections. The opposition alleges fraud.

Millions of dollars in foreign aid have been put on hold until the crisis is resolved.

Colombia captures 8 rebels sought in villagers' deaths

BOGOTA, Colombia - Soldiers captured eight paramilitary fighters yesterday who are suspected of killing at least 24 peasants in a village in southwestern Colombia, the army said.

The suspected members of the outlaw militia, known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, were caught in a raid in the province of Valle del Cauca, near where the massacre of the peasants Wednesday took place.

The villagers were removed from buses and homes and then shot in the head in the village of Buga.

European college grateful for $250 million donation

BUDAPEST, Hungary - The president of the Central European University said yesterday that he was "overjoyed" by a $250 million gift from its founder, U.S. billionaire George Soros.

Soros, a Hungarian-born businessman and philanthropist, founded the university 10 years ago and has supported it with about $20 million a year since.

But in a speech delivered Saturday at the university's anniversary celebration in Budapest, he said he would give a lump sum.

From wire reports

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